January 19, 2018 / 5:17 PM / a year ago

Merkel upbeat SPD will approve talks with her conservatives

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon her arrival at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday she was optimistic that Social Democrats (SPD) would approve the start of formal coalition talks with her conservatives at a special party congress this weekend.

Speaking in Paris, Merkel said she saw no major difference between French President Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious vision for Europe and a blueprint for coalition talks hammered out by conservatives and the SPD.

“Germany and France can and should take the lead on many questions (related to Europe) and therefore I understand that France is waiting that we have a new government,” Merkel said during a joint news conference with Macron.

She added: “On a broad basis, there is absolutely no difference that I see. It is a Europe that must have a common foreign policy on strategic questions, a Europe that must create its own development policies, a Europe of defence, and it is a Europe that has to be economically strong.”

She said the two countries could make relatively quick progress on areas such as a common corporate tax structure and a banking union for the euro zone.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Joseph Nasr in Berlin; Editing by Andrea Shalal

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